But what does it really mean to be authentically you? People search their whole lives for meaning, purpose, and a reason to be happy throughout the day. Even with all of the searching, we still so often fall into this crazy trap of approval. Whether that is wanting your parent’s approval, peers, spouse, teacher, lover, sister, brother, society…anyone. We want to be ourselves and we want to fit in and be accepted. So we change and morph and remold ourselves throughout our lives, unknowingly often, just to feel loved, accepted, or approved of.
So what DOES it mean to be authentically you? It means not caring what anyone else thinks about you or what you say or what you do. It’s a knowing within yourself that you’ve lived today from your heart. Maybe it means saying something that doesn’t get someone you love’s approval. Maybe it means even pissing some people off.
A truth I’ve never really wanted to face is that some people just won’t like me. For whatever reason, they won’t approve. So I’ve hidden, I’ve made myself smaller to avoid the painful reality that to be authentically ME, I can not care what everyone thinks, and I won’t be liked by everyone.
I had a dream last night, and in it a stranger shot me in the heart. Now, that of course sounds violent, and can be interpreted in so many ways. I know what it means to me. It woke me out of my sleep with my heart racing, tears on my cheeks, and breathing heavy. The miraculous thing is I could feel the searing pain in my heart and chest, even if only for a brief moment. Now, you may be thinking, miraculous…? Is this chick crazy? But yes, for me it was a wake up call. It was an super freaky intense moment where I realized my heart IS still beating and I’ll be damned if I don’t get every single ounce of JOY and LOVE from this life as I possibly can.
I woke up with a voice, MY voice, and a knowing that I now know what it means to be authentically ME. It means voicing what is in my heart no matter what the circumstances. No matter what the outcome. It means not being afraid of living. Not being afraid of loving, or being loved. It means risking it all for a feeling.
It means that the shy girl I’ve always claimed to be is only a mask I’ve been hiding behind in an effort to gain everyone’s approval. In a new group of people I always observe first…to see what is acceptable within the group and then act accordingly. I don’t want to step on toes or hurt anyone’s feelings. So where does that actually get me? It makes me the shy girl, who never says anything REAL to strangers, and perhaps even the people I love.
Even on my blog, I censor so much. Wondering if a reader is going to disapprove. Wondering if my Mom or my boyfriend are going to read it and interpret it disapprovingly. Why? I certainly don’t want to read a censored version of someone’s truth.
I am who I am, and I know I’m actually pretty amazing. If what I say pisses someone off, and they choose to disapprove, I can’t care. Not because I don’t love them, if they are close to me, but because they have to love me because I AM me.
I hope that my dream stays with me, and that I wake up everyday and feel my heart beating in my chest and it reminds me to be me no matter what the cost. I can’t get yesterday or last week back to change anything, but I can live today and everyday with more meaning. I’m sure it will be challenging to show up and be me every day. I’m sure as tears sting my eyes when I know someone doesn’t approve, that it’s worth it to be ME.
Just think of all of the people you look up to or feel have lived authentic lives. Most of them overcame odds, or spoke up, or stood up for something they believe. Their authenticity came from their hearts. If you admire that, why not strive to be that? Living authentically can’t come from following a crowd, or jumping ship when things get tough. Living authentically means that you take a risk that no one else can take for you.
So when you are snapping a selfie, or writing that quippy post with a #liveauthentically, I challenge you, no, I beg you to please for the sake of your own voice and all of us who are choosing to live authentically, be you. Use your voice. Don’t be afraid to say what you really want to. Say something YOU believe. There are thousands of people who will love and support YOU. I accept you. I approve of you. Most importantly, and above all, when you look in the mirror, YOU will approve of YOU.
And for all of you who are living authentically…I applaud you! Through all of the difficulties I’ve been though and have seen others go through, this may perhaps be one of the most difficult personal responsibilities that any of us can face. The risk is SO worth the reward, and the benefits are sure to follow.
believe. IN YOU